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An Ideal Portrait of the Consecrated Virgin Today

A rainbow variety of experiences of God’s love are found in the biblical book of Revelations, in the letters to the seven churches.

The book of Revelations  itself seems like a parable which expresses all that goes on, within the unconscious parts of the human psyche. We are well aware of different personality types. There are interesting theories of renowned psychologists e.g. of  Freud (psycho-analytical), Jung (archetypes) as well as mystics, e.g.  St.John of the Cross (dark night), St.Teresa of Avila (interior castle), Sufi saints [enneagram], etc., which have been used as  tools to understand  the experience of salvation in the life of a person or society.

I find the letters to the seven churches a beautiful expression of this. Let’s try to analyze them for the present times, for the  Church in general.

In the journey through life, there are situations / stages in the life of a church, which coincide with the description of each of the seven churches mentioned in the letters in the book of Revelations.

The approach to understand this is not linear in terms of time. Hence, the seven letters are not seen as an end-time prophecy. The seven shades of the drama of salvation could take place  at different moments throughout the journey of the Church through the millennia. It could also mean degrees of salvation / liberation  or messages suitable to different churches. We need to see it from the Christian perspective of time which seems to be more spiral.

I shall take the letter to the church in Laodicea as an example since it seems to best fit the situation in the Church today, characterized by complacency and having need of a new evangelisation

The Virgin Mary  not only gave birth to the Messiah  but was willing to offer the fruit of her womb  (Jesus who took the sins of all humankind upon himself)  to be  put back on the  tree.  The New Eve in a way reversed the sin of  the Old Eve who disobeyed God, and humankind was freed from the curse and redeemed forever.  

The myths in the Bible are the archetypes of the human person and humankind in general. The story of the Fall  is one such myth which seems to have its antitype in the letter to the church in Laodicea, in which supposedly the situation was the worst among all the seven churches. In this letter are mentioned the sins of  the first couple  and the beautiful way in which they are redeemed by the visitor. Where sin increases, grace increases even more. 

The Ultimate Reality is beyond all these forms and symbols and yet incarnated in the tangible, understandable, human aspect of life. The letter to the church in Laodicea (Revelations 3), the story of the Fall (Genesis 3), the parable of the prophet (Ezekiel 16), all lead to some understanding of what is the meaning of Original Sin and the meaning of Redemption. 

The sin of the first couple was related to different aspects of life and also to the triple concupiscence. They did not wait for God to eat with them.  This shows their material richness but spiritual poverty. Humankind is called to share all resources and live in communion. In the context of the poverty in Asia, redemption would mean  allowing God to come and share our  house, our meal, etc. (God who comes in the  form of  those who are poorer than us). The symbols  of the gifts in the letter could mean spiritual or material gifts. Perhaps both these aspects of gift need to be harmonized. Grace is not merely an abstract or spiritual experience of the Reign of God within.  It has to become concretized in the expression of the Reign of God in the world, in the Here and Now, as both  ‘already’ and ‘not yet.’ The fact of the Incarnation itself is the best expression of Human plus Divine.

The Laodiceans loved their religion, like many today love their denominations, but they did not love Jesus Christ. The church in Laodicea in lukewarmness, cast the Lord Jesus outside the local church. God separated His chosen ones from the apostate institution of Laodicea by chastening them in the crucible of suffering.

These types and archetypes are symbols. The "angel" of a Church could perhaps mean the spirit of the church  or the archetypal drama / script which that church follows unconsciously.  The key to the redemption or liberation from that script lies in replacing it with another script or by undoing or making an antithesis of it.  This is how we would understand from a spiral concept of time  (the journey revisits history to purify it and moves on).

In today’s world, the charism of consecrated virginity is little known or understood even by consecrated virgins themselves. The script today, does not seem in continuity with the charism in the Early Church. It is being lived more as a Secular Institute. The Order of Virgins needs to be liberated from the scripts of other vocations in the Church and replace it with the script of the original charism, but in harmony with today’s world and other vocations to consecrated life in the Church.

Consecrated virgins are  called Sponsa Christi (bride of Christ), a title shared with the Church. Like Mary, the New Eve, consecrated virgins can put the fruit back on the tree. This vocation can replace the scripts of today's world, with its charism of faithfulness to the Lord, thus bringing a new evangelisation.

The ideal portrait of the consecrated virgin today, would be found in the letter to the church in Philadelphia.

 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
    These are the words of the holy one, the true one,
    who has the key of David,
    who opens and no one will shut,
    who shuts and no one opens: 
“I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lying—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.  If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. (Rev 3:7-13)


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